Monday, February 4, 2013

6 Easy Ways to Increase CRM User Adoption

After months of contemplating and planning, a Customer Relationship Management software is finally selected. After days of hard work it is configured, customized and installed across the organisation. There just remains one basic problem – no one knows how exactly to use it! And the solution is so complex that probably nobody ever will. The end result? The entire CRM package yields zero results.

In the world of CRM solutions, user acceptance is a major issue that absolutely cannot be overlooked. Though the end users are not always the same people who select the solution to begin with, they can be amazingly resourceful as far as working around new CRM implementations and products is concerned. CRM software should be simple, a pleasure to use and include a high degree of efficiency.

The most significant part of any CRM solution is its usability. To understand better, it may be helpful to first understand the traditional ways of ‘measuring’ usability of any system or solution. The following criteria highlight the factors that the concept of usability should ideally include:

Efficiency: Speed, productivity, and ease in the completion of any given task are what translate to efficiency. In this respect, it is wise to ensure that common and repetitive tasks are efficiently automated. When any given task (especially one that needs to be regularly repeated) takes lesser time, productivity automatically increases.

When it comes to CRM implementations, often hundreds of users get involved, thereby making even small efficiency improvements lead to remarkable enhancements in productivity. So, if similar tasks are repeated numerous times each day in an organisation, saving even a few seconds for each task can help in saving appreciable amounts of time, effort and money.

Effectiveness: The ability to complete jobs and tasks is another important point, it sounds very obvious, but, the implications are manifold. Though products may work well from a ‘functional’ point of view, there may still be users who find it difficult to actually ‘learn’ tasks – so much so that many important product features will never be used.

Since, extensive functionality and complex processes are usually enclosed within CRM applications, an interface that is helpful, intuitive and interactive will assist users to find all the features and functions as and when they want. This means that they can extract the best out of the CRM solution. Also training time is saved to a considerable extent. Here, training includes formal training and also the time that is spent on helping others figure out tough applications.

User experience and satisfaction: If users of the CRM software are unable to gain value from it and navigate effortlessly, the big risk of rejection lies ahead. This is particularly important for CRMs, where several implementations face outright rejection due to employees’ resistance to change and their unwillingness to accept new work practices.

CRM products that are easy and enjoyable to use are always welcomed and quickly adopted. On the contrary, complicated, counter-intuitive and unfriendly products are completely sidelined by users, forcing them to return to earlier work practices.

Having understood the importance of a CRM solution's usability there are certain techniques that ensure the CRM software offers ease-of-use to targeted employees. Following are some usability monitoring techniques which can assure the CRM solution’s success -

Understanding and collating user requirements: The primary aim of a CRM package is to simplify workflows and automate specific repetitive core/ non-core tasks. It is essential to clearly identify CRM challenges for business and technology.

In the beginning of the CRM design phase itself, sufficient time should be taken to completely understand user needs and requirements. The final product should be such that it does not demand profound changes from users, but on the contrary fits in perfectly into the way they already prefer working. This exercise should be done across the hiearchy and not simply using top management inputs. Also, terminologies and names used within the system should be common knowledge to avoid confusion when navigating or adding information to the CRM solution..

Interaction design: The final structuring of the product should reflect an optimized interaction design..
This means that the functional specifications must be guided by the processes, information and workflow that are required by users. Once these aspects have been assembled in the interaction design process, implementation follows. Thus, technology can be used to generate ‘user-centric’ solutions.

Final user testing: Testing must be done as often as possible, involving real users who are performing real tasks. This is by far the best way to pinpoint any issues that may exist in a CRM software’s functionality and/or interface. Those products which are launched without proper user testing are prone to requirement of substantial re-developments in order to meet unmet user requirements.

Studies have indicated that almost 65% of product development lifecycle costs happen because of such revisions.

Another significant point to bear in mind is that CRM systems are often configured during deployment and most often experienced and skilled employees use the systems. For this reason, post-implementation user testing programs must be conducted so that long-term product acceptance can be gauged. This will ensure that the CRM product will find an optimal fit with any given workforce, at any point in time. Also, making changes after the CRM solution has gone live can affect customer experience and cause havoc for customer facing logged-in users when they are unable to access critical information.

To avoid making gains in the short term and regretting implementing a CRM solution in the long term because information is available in numerous silos with low user adoption, evaluate CRM software carefully. Ensure the CRM solutions is flexible, cost-effective and can be easily upgraded to match new requirements or business strategies.


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